One Day Competition - President Cardinals vs OBC, Elmwood Park #3, Presidents, 22nd November 2014
I'm sure I would have said the same after last season's Burwood match, but there are just some moments in sport when the occasion is just far more important than the result....when the result simply doesn't matter. And for those of us on either side playing or observing in this match, it was unanimous that in all of our many decades of cricketing experience none of us had played in a 40 over game (in fact any game) in which one side had scored 400 plus runs, or one player had scored a double century, let alone 229*.
This was a match that started on 30degrees heat, but one where for many days we'd known that a short southerly storm was expected late in the day in Christchurch. So well forecast in fact that the likes of Laughts had spent the week arguing for agreement on a T20 match to increase the opportunity for a result which both sides badly needed - little did he know the history that he would have deprived both himself and us of if he had gotten his way.
So with an after-Christmas flat track and fast outfield presenting itself when we arrived at Elmwood, Ralphy did the decent thing and won one of the 499 tosses that he still owes the team, and elected to bat. And from there it became another Laughts and Wildy exhibition. Both players played out the first over for a maiden, but from that point Armageddon broke out as the two of them proceeded to pummel the OBC bowlers.. The opening partnership became 50 in less than 5 overs, 100 in less than 10, then 150 before the 15th over. And although Laughts went on to star, throughout that partnership there was so little to separate the two in performance and it a real surprise when Wildy was eventually dismissed. But by the time Wildy had one dribble back onto his stumps with the score at 175, and his at 78, the game was more than gone for OBC in less than the first 20 overs of the match. Kev came and went reasonably quickly for 4 which then brought Matt and Laughts together to continue the carnage. Matt's controlled aggression bought him a fine 43 that on another day would have been the highlight, and Ski then continued on with Laughts for an equally cultured 27 to ensure that the momentum was not lost at any point in the innings
But throughout, the master remained in control. Laughts continued to thrash the bowlers to the boundary in a display that received as much admiration from the opposition players as it did from his team mates. Such was his dominance that OBC had nine boundary riders throughout much of the last 10 overs of the innings, and although Laughts suggested later that the gaps were becoming harder to find, the truth was, as one of their players stated later, there was always a gap there for Laughts, straight over the heads of every fielder on any boundary - 18 sixes out of 34 boundaries, a huge testimony to that comment. And this was against the likes of ex-Black cap Aaron Gale and Duncan Clayton who are more than useful bowlers on another day. There must be no more intimidating sight on a flat deck to be bowling to a man who looks like he has spent his entire week in the gym sculpturing himself into a weapon to better smash you even further over your head for repeated sixes.
When we finished at 402/4, Laught's eventual 229* was a staggering display of clean power hitting that we will likely never see again. The OBC captain's presentation to Laughts of the match ball between innings was not only appreciated but a recognition that everyone at the ground, including the two teams in the match next to us who stopped to applaud his 200, knew that we'd all seen something special in our cricketing lives. The 200 was nice but for Laughts we well know that he savoured even more the 194 that took him past Wildy's highest score - but then, Laughts is a batsman.
The OBC response was frankly an academic exercise of ensuring that we beat the threatening weather that had started to turn towards the end of our innings as the temperature dropped dramatically - the storm was coming and we needed to bowl 20 overs to make it a game and bring Duckworth Lewis into play (courageously, none of us bothered to check at any time who might had won should it have got to that). And OBC recognised the occasion and played their part in not trying to slow the game down unduly but when danger man Tim McConnell went early for 18 off Jules (even Tim wasn't going to pull this one back for his side) any small ambitions were gone. We proceeded to race through the required 20 overs in 65 minutes before OBC did the decent thing and "declared" 88/2 to ensure that we all got off the ground well before the rain hit - within the hour it was unplayable.
So a big win dictated to such an extent by Laughts, Wildy, Matt and Ski that the bowlers day was confined to applause and back slapping of the batsmen. But did I say the result didn't matter? Of course that's horse shit, it did matter, we badly needed it to keep the recovery going from an horrendous start to the season - if we can achieve a win against hospital next week, a special weekend where all the ten Pressies teams will play at Sydenham and its surrounding grounds, it then sets us up for a clash against one of the competition leaders in BWU, and hopefully a leveling off of the playing field.
Man of the Match: Brendon Laughton
Check out the scorecard from the game.